While enjoying lunch at JP’s Sports Grill (located within the Jardine Apartment Community), Director of Parent & Family Relations Mindy Weixelman sat down with Assistant Vice President for Student Life/Director of Housing & Dining Services Derek Jackson to hear the latest news about Residence Life.
Mindy: Hi Derek! There are so many exciting projects, both large and small, taking place within Housing & Dining Services right now. I’m eager for you to share an update with K-State parents and families. Let’s start with a quick overview. Tell us about Housing & Dining Services.
Derek: Housing and Dining Services provides a living-learning environment for students, families and guests that is safe and comfortable. When construction on our newest residence hall (Wefald Hall) is complete this fall, we’ll have housing for more than 6,000 students in ten residence halls, a large apartment community, one leadership/scholarship house for women and a house for honors students. Our three dining centers serve made-from-scratch, balanced meals planned by registered dietitians, and feed approximately 10,000 people a day.
This year, we’re opening a new residence hall, and rolling out a new online system for choosing a living space with us. In fact, there are a lot of substantial changes for residents this fall. There’s a new traditional-private room type that has bathrooms with increased privacy. These will be found in Wefald Hall, as well as West Hall, which underwent a remodel this past winter. There’s no longer an occupancy limit: any student — freshman to senior to grad — can live in the halls. Also, the top floors of West and Marlatt halls will be available only to students 19 years of age or older. On the dining side, dining centers will remain open continuously throughout the day after breakfast and until closing after dinner. A new All-Access Meal plan will allow students to have unlimited number of meals and snacks.
Mindy: You feed10,000 people per day?! Housing and Dining Services certainly plays a significant role in the lives of students. Tell me about your role as director of Housing & Dining Services.
Derek: My role is to provide vision, leadership and support to the Housing and Dining Services operations. We are a self-operated auxiliary department with five functional areas: business operations, facilities management, dining services, apartment living and residence life. It is the largest administrative unit in the Division of Student Affairs.
Mindy: In addition to your significant role leading Housing & Dining Services, I know you were also recently promoted to Assistant VP for Student Affairs. Tell me what that means.
Derek: Yes, thank you! As director of housing and dining services I’m responsible for day to day decisions and long term visioning and planning for the department. My expanded leadership role includes providing support, direction and supervision for Recreation Services, and the Center for Child Development.
Mindy: Congratulations on your well-deserved promotion! I’m still thinking about the number of students you serve, and the facilities you manage within Housing & Dining Services. It must take a lot of people to keep all the functional areas moving every day. How many staff/students typically work in Housing & Dining Services?
Derek: We have approximately 350 full-time staff and 1,200 student employees. We’re one of the — if not THE biggest employers of students on campus. They work in all areas of our department: grounds, IT, dining centers, residence halls, apartments, administrative offices, etc.
Mindy: You shared all the living options ranging from residence halls to apartment living. How many students live in the Residence Halls and the Jardine Apartment Community?
Derek: We currently have approximately 4,000 students in the halls and 1,500 students in the apartments.
Mindy: Your passion for serving students shows in all you do. What do you enjoy most about working at K-State?
Derek: I love working with the staff and students at K-State. We have really bright and caring students and staff who love being part of the K-State family. It is really easy to work with motivated, energetic people.
Mindy: Share two ways that Housing and Dining Services helps students be successful.
Derek: We provide an academically focused community for students to come together in. On-campus students are close to classes, have staff devoted to assisting them, are served healthy meals, and find it easier to meet other students and get involved.
We also partner with K-State First — a program that connects first-year students and provides them with a strong academic and social foundation — to encourage them to continue on into their sophomore year.
Mindy: I’m sure parents will be pleased to learn about the strong partnership between academics and residence life. You and your staff do a tremendous job of responding to the needs of students and families. If a student or parent has a question, or needs help how can they contact Housing and Dining Services?
Derek: I would suggest anyone to call 785-532-6453, our main housing line, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mindy: There are so many wonderful aspects about living in a residence hall or the Jardine Apartment Community. You mentioned the proximity to classes, healthy meals, engagement with staff, etc. What is the best-kept secret about Housing and Dining Services?
Derek: On a national level, we have staff both in dining and student living who are recognized as the best of the best. Over the years, we have selected and developed some of the leaders in this industry.
Mindy: Is there anything else you want to share with parents and families?
Derek: We are excited about working with parents and families when it comes to helping students be successful here at K-State.
Mindy: Thank you for meeting with me at JP’s. The selection and quality of food is exceptional, and the atmosphere provides a fun and relaxing place to catch a game or visit with friends. I hope students will bring their parents and families here during their next visit to Manhattan. Derek, thank you for all you do for students and families. GO CATS!